With a separation of 60 million kilometres on Oct. 6 Mars is big and bright. (Damian Peach photo)

Look for Mars in the Kootenay sky, tonight

With a separation of 60 million kilometres on October 6 Mars is big and bright.

Over the past few months, the planet Mars has been steadily brightening and is now at its peak.

While it takes Earth 365 days to orbit once around the sun, Mars lies farther away from the sun taking 687 days to complete one lap. Every 26 months and an odd number of days, Earth catches up with slower Mars, allowing us to see greater detail on its surface through the eyepiece of a telescope.

With a separation of 60 million kilometres on October 6 Mars is big and bright.

Previous: Mysterious fireball rips through Kootenay sky

Dubbed the “red” planet, Mars appears more orange than red and is the result of a large amount of rust otherwise known as iron oxide that covers much of the Martian landscape. It is now rising in the east after sunset and is visible all night long. Jupiter and Saturn are still seen in the western sky and set at midnight.

Mercury is also in the west close to the Sun and harder to locate.

Before the night ends, brilliant Venus is seen rising in the east around 4 a.m. The days of the week were derived from these five wandering planets along with the Sun and the moon.

As the latter months of 2020 tick by, Mars will continue to dim as our distance increases. Our next close encounter occurs in December 2022.

Ever since the first successful flyby by NASA’s Mariner 4 in July of 1965, dozens of missions have been sent to Mars to learn its secrets and answer to the ultimate question, is there life on Mars?

With the help of orbiters, landers and rovers, more and more discoveries are being made.

One of the key ingredient to finding life is water. Every living organism on Earth requires water and scientist believe Mars had oceans some three billion years ago. As the planet continued to cool from its early creation, it lost its magnetic field protecting it from deadly solar radiation.

The solar winds blew away the atmosphere and the water evaporated.

There have been more recent discoveries of saltwater locked up in the permafrost.

The next mission carrying and rover Perseverance and a small helicopter named Ingenuity is currently on its seven-month journey to reach the planet in February 2021.

Known as “The Backyard Astronomer”, Gary Boyle is an astronomy educator, guest speaker and monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Astronomy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Courtesy of CDC).
Interior Health reports 12 additional COVID-19 cases

The total number of cases in the region is now at 644

Photo: Submitted
LeRoi foundation donates to Kootenay Boundary COVID relief

The community foundation gave $19,370 for the cause

The house is located near two schools. Photo: Connor Trembley
Dog attack seriously injures young boy in Castlegar

Despite investigating the incident, city staff aren’t confirming if the dog has been put down

Former B.V. Nitehawk Craig Martin inked a deal with the Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL earlier this week.  Photo: Jim Bailey.
Trail product, Craig Martin, re-signs with ECHL Jacksonville Icemen

Martin returns to the Icemen after collecting eight goals and 23 points during his rookie season

Telephone operators at the Trail exchange in the early 1900s. Photo: Trail Historical Society
Trail Blazers: Early communication began with 30 telephones

Trail Blazers is a weekly feature in partnership with the Trail Museum and Archives

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels Corb Lund’s Vernon, Penticton, Trail, Cranbrook concerts

The Contenders, Colin James and Lund postponed until 2021

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

One of the squirrels who ended up having their tails amputated after getting them stuck together with tree sap. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Squirrels recovering from tail amputation after sap situation near Victoria

BC SPCA Wild ARC says squirrels will be released back into wild, fifth sibling was euthanized

Most Read